This time we wake up freezing our butts off on top of some mountain. Except it isn’t a mountain at all, but some big-ass hill overlooking what I’m pretty sure is the skyline of Pittsburgh. Well, why not? The first place Dodgers are in town for a two-game series, just a half game in front of the Bucs. No matter how bad the game is, it’ll still be the biggest one of the day.
Mikey isn’t thrilled, of course, even when I tell him we’re at least in his home state. “You kiddin’ me??” he blusters, “Pollutionopolis here is too far west to even think about, and the middle of the state might as well be Alabama.” Crazy Amy laughs, and I notice she’s been staring at him a lot and asking him what position he played in Little League. It’s a good thing, because it helps me get away from Mikey for a while and spend the Sunday afternoon with Sherman. He’s been wicked excited over L.A.’s great start, and as we take this wacky vertical railroad car down to the bottom, he even ropes Fred into a friendly discussion about how Smith is a better Reggie than Jackson.
Three Rivers Stadium is still there, in all its circular concrete glory, and a pretty healthy crowd is showing up. I check my score pad as we cross a parking lot, though, and see that we’re scheduled for both games, meaning we’ll actually be in a town overnight. “Wherever we stay needs to have wi-fi,” announces Lester, causing the rest of us to just stop and look at him. “Oh. My mistake. I just thought, it being the beginning of May, it might be nice to compile some statistics. I checked the local newspaper and they don’t even have OPS in the box scores yet, let alone DARF or PECORP.” I want to ask him what those mean, but we only have a half hour before the game starts.
Games of the Days
PITTSBURGH—Two tough lefties are on the hill, Tommy John and Jerry Reuss. The crowd groans and Sherman cheers when Reuss appears to have nothing in the 1st. After Russell doubles, Better Reggie doubles him home. Cey walks, Garvey rips a single into center but Al Oliver nails Smith at the plate when Duffy Dyer blocks the plate like a champ. Baker then singles in Cey, and it’s 2-0 Dodgers out of the gate.
Cobra Parker, as hot as Smith lately, bams a double off the wall to start the Pittsburgh 4th, and Robinson singles him in. After a flyout, Oliver picks out a sloppy John curve and golfs it high over the fence in right! 3-2 Bucs and the place is a bigger nuthouse than ours.
Buc fielding gets shaky at this point. A Robinson boot at first after a lead single by that man Smith in the 5th produces loaded bases with one out, but Reuss gets Burke to ground into an inning-ending DP. Then Fernando Gonzalez, playing left vs. southpaws, drops an easy fly hit by John in the 6th for a two-base error. A Russell single gets the man to third, and a passed ball by Dyer gets him in to tie the game.
Sherman yelps with glee, buys Isaly’s ice cream bars for everyone, and we move into the even tenser late innings. Stennett plasters a triple off the wall between Baker and Burke to start the 8th, but is tagged in a rundown after Garner hits one right back to John. Parker singles Garner to third, but Tommy whiffs Robinson and gets Gonzalez on a 4-3 grounder and that’s that.
It’s a treat to see skinny Kent Tekulve out there tossing his famous submarine worm-killers in relief. And the right-handed Dodger lineup can’t touch him, going three and two-thirds innings without a hit.
Bottom of the 10th now, John still in there. Stennett grounds out to Garvey and here’s Scrap Iron Garner, who’s done nothing but hit big homers so far. Guess what, folks? High and deep to left it goes, Baker’s back to the fence looking up, the Bucs are in first and Sherman weeps!
Mikey tries to talk us into looking for a disco later, but has no clue which neighborhood to look in and gives up calling directory assistance when he sees five people waiting to use one of those old-fashioned pay phones outside the park. So we end up in a slummy pair of hotel rooms, wander aimlessly around downtown for most of Monday and make it back to Three Rivers for the Rau vs. Kison finale.
This time L.A. barely shows up. Kison doesn’t allow a hit until a Lopes leadoff single in the 6th, and the Pirates have been busy doing everything right. Parker takes a Lopes homer away with a wall-leap in the 1st. Stennett doubles home two after a huge two-base error by suddenly not-as-good Reggie in the 2nd. Oh yeah, and Scrap Iron Garner belts another homer with Stennett aboard in the 5th.
Up 4-1, Kison tires in the 7th and the the Dodgers load the bases with two outs. But Grant Jackson comes on, gets Russell to ground out, and tosses a scoreless 8th. When Mota bats for Monday to start the 9th, Goose Gossage is called in, and Friendly Fred jumps up and goes bonkers. “My Man Goose!!” he yells from our grandstand spot, nearly loud enough for Gossage to hear, “You’re on the Yanks next year, bro!!”
I grab his shirt and pull him down. “Quiet, dummy! He ain’t supposed to know that yet! You trying to screw up history?”
“Why the hell not?” says Mikey, and I stare at him, because it occurs to me right then, as Mota whiffs, Baker walks, and Oates raps into the 3-6-3 DP that ends the game and puts the Bucs a game and a half up, that we actually CAN change some history here. Not just baseball’s, either. All sorts of things…
L.A. 200 001 000 0 – 3 8 1
PIT 000 300 000 1 – 4 11 2
W-Tekulve L-John HRS: Oliver, Garner GWRBI-Garner
L.A. 000 001 000 – 1 4 1
PIT 020 020 00x – 4 5 1
W-Kison L-Rau SV-Gossage HR-Garner GWRBI-Stennett
Other May 4th Action:
at EXPOS 7-14-0, CUBS 6-9-0
This is the Game of the Day in my book, but when you’re bringing up the rear of the league, you don’t get the press. 2-1 Cubs in the 5th when Perez ties the game with a shot off Krummy Krukow. Valentine singles in the go-ahead off Paul Reuschel and Garrett singles in another in the 6th. Murcer and Biitner go back-to-back in the 8th off Brown to tie the game. Unser double puts Montreal ahead again. Greg Gross smashes two-out homer in 9th off Atkinson to tie the game again. With Sutter unavailable, Parrisj smacks pinch homer off Hernandez in last of 10th to win it.
W-Kerrigan L-Hernandez HRS: Murcer, Biitner, Gross, Perez, Parrish GWRBI-Parrish
CARDS 3-6-2, at PHILLIES 1-8-0
Lerch pitches really good for him, but Denny and four innings of 1-hit relief by Urrea top that.
W-Denny L-Lerch SV-Urrea GWRBI-Templeton
ASTROS 7-15-0, at REDS 5-6-1
Cedeno starts the game with a laser homer off Fred Norman, and four runs cross the plate. Bench shrugs, hits a grand-slam in the 3rd after three walks from Andujar to tie the game, but Houston keeps pouring on the hits until they score enough to win.
W-Andujar L-Norman HRS: Cedeno, Bench, GWRBI-Watson
at REDS 6-11-0, ASTROS 4-9-0
Forsch relieves horrible Larson and takes a 4-2 lead to the last of the 7th on a big 3-run bomb from Watson, but Kenny krumbles like a Krispy Kreme, giving up a triple, single, double and walk for three Cincy runs in the 8th to blow what would have been a huge DH sweep.
W-Borbon L-Forsch SV-Sarmiento HR: Watson GWRBI-Driessen
TWINS 16-22-2, at RED SOX 6-14-1
Nice 1st inning for El Tiante: Bostock double, Wynegar single, Carew walk, Hisle homer, one-out Cubbage single, Chiles single, Wilfong double and Smalley single before Looie is handed his shower robe and cigar. Then things get bad. After Hisle’s second dong five innings later, Stanley plunks Larry the next time up and nearly sparks a brawl. Oh, and Jim Rice finally hits his first homer of the year in the 9th with the Sox safely behind by 12 runs.
W-Thormodsgard L-Tiant, I guess HRS: Hisle-2, Wynegar, Hobson, Rice GWRBI-Wynegar
ROYALS 3-6-0, at YANKEES 1-5-0 (11 innings)
K.C.’s got the Thang. You know what the Thang is, right? The good fortune that grins on ya no matter how bad a game you play, in Strat terms the miracle dice rolls that fall in your lap from dawn to dusk. Catfish gives up a solo Porter homer in the 2nd and then virtually nothing the rest of the way, while the Yanks are mesmerized by Paul Splittorff until one out in the 9th, when Jackson doubles, Munson triples, and the winning run is perched at third with just one out. Cue the Thang. Blair grounds out to short, Nettles walks. Littell comes on, Chambliss pinch-hits, and also walks. Loaded now. Rivers, who’s done basically nothing since the season started, grounds weakly to first and we go extras. Where Thangmaster Amos Otis parks a 2-run homer off—you guessed it—Sparky Lyle, on a 1-2 chance.
W-Littell L-Hunter HRS: Porter, Otis GWRBI-Otis
ROYALS 6-10-0, at YANKEES 2-6-2
Your more conventional K.C. miracle here, as the very mediocre Doug Bird goes the distance while the Royals are busy disfiguring Clay and Tidrow. Billy Martin would probably do something violent if he wasn’t passed out in the dugout from drinking bourbon to get him through these games.
W-Bird L-Clay HRS: Mayberry-2, Nettles GWRBI-Mayberry
at ORIOLES 5-12-1, RANGERS 4-8-2 (13 innings)
The double MASH units have at each other with matching spare parts, and after a Singleton homer ties it in the 8th, a Dauer single after a 2-base Beniquez error eventually wins it in the 13th.
W-Martinez L-Moret HRS: Harrah (no. 11), Sundberg, Singleton GWRBI-Dauer
at ORIOLES 4-6-0, RANGERS 1-2-1
Despite a brilliant McGregor performance, Birds are down 1-0 in the 8th when Eddie Murray belts a grand-slam off Len Barker’s first relief pitch.
W-McGregor L-Devine HRS: Beniquez, Murray GWRBI-Murray
at INDIANS 9-15-1, WHITE SOX 8-12-0
Steve Stone may be a great announcer, but he’s sure stinking up the field so far. Try 0-4, 10.35, with 39 hits and eight homers allowed in 20 innings of work. Given a 5-0 lead early here, he melts into another puddle.
W-Bibby L-Stone SV-Kern HRS: Gamble, Spencer, Thornton-2, Bochte, Lowenstein GWRBI-Lowenstein
WHITE SOX 5-10-1, at INDIANS 4-9-1
The Tribe battle back again to tie the game at 4-4 on a Bell sac fly in the 7th, but a similar fly by Garr off Kern in the 9th edges them this time.
W-Dal Canton L-Kern HR: Soderholm, GWRBI-Garr
Other May 5th Action:
CUBS 4-7-2, at EXPOS 2-9-1
Down 2-1 in the 9th, Cubbies rally for three off Stanhouse and Schatzeder. Full Pack is getting zero run support and has yet to win a game.
W-Broberg L-Stanhouse SV-Sutter
at PHILLIES 7-9-0, CARDS 1-8-1
Falcone serves up Garry Maddox’s second 1-4 chance grand slam in three days, and that’s all I wrote.
W-Kaat L-Falcone HRS: Reitz, Maddox, D. Johnson GWRBI-Maddox
TWINS 12-21-4, at RED SOX 3-7-0
Okay, I get it. The Twins have arrived. That’s 28 runs and 43 hits in the two games at Fenway for anyone without a calculator. Mike Paxton is the drawn-and-quartered victim this time.
W-Zahn L-Paxton HRS: Adams, Bostock, Yaz
RANGERS 9-11-0, at ORIOLES 0-6-2
DeCinces and Kelly return to action, but it doesn’t help. This is actually a 1-0 game into the 9th, the Birds shot down time and again at crucial moments by Gaylord Perry’s 11 wet strikeouts, before rare Oriole errors in the 9th fuel an 8-run Texas barbeque.
W-Perry L-May GWRBI-Beniquez
Dodgers at Reds
Cards at Expos
Astros at Pirates
Cubs at Phillies
Royals at Red Sox (good luck, olde towne team!)
Twins at Yankees
Rangers at Indians
White Sox at Orioles
STAT LEADERS COMING ON TUESDAY!
American League through Monday, May 5
National League through Monday, May 5